Because those who can, teach.
When asked to write this blog my first train of thought was to consider why I became a teacher. As I tried to summarise it into one lightbulb moment, I realised that there wasn’t one singular answer.
I thought back to all the times I had been asked this question before. Speaking to career advisors, my A-level maths teacher, university tutors, the principal of my teacher training facility and many others along the way. Although I knew very clearly that I wanted to be a teacher, I had never really stopped to consider the deep-seated reasons within me. Instead, I churned out the usual ‘I enjoy working with children’ and ‘I want to pass on a love of my subject’. Although these are both true and perfectly valid, it does not accurately explain my reasons. It wasn’t until NQT lead and Vice Principal at Leeds West, Sam Pocock, asked me to write this blog that I sat down to really articulate the reasons behind my career choice.
While at university, my tutor asked me why I was applying to become a teacher. My reply was ‘I love working with children and I want a job where everyday is different’. This was and is still very true. Each day is completely different, and you never know what to expect from the wonderful students we welcome through the doors each day.
When applying for teacher training, they asked me why I wanted to be a teacher. I said ‘I have a passion for maths and a strong academic background which will make me a good teacher’ – while I hope this is true as I am now responsible for the maths education of over 100 students it still doesn’t fully explain my choice.
In the classroom, students ask me why I wanted to be a teacher. My usual response is ‘because I want to do maths everyday’. Most are in disbelief that anyone would want to do maths every day. This I am not surprised by due to the bad reputation maths has but I hope that some are emboldened by this admission and can allow themselves to also enjoy my favourite subject.
It is only when I compile all my reasons given along this journey that I can finally articulate my true reasons. I teach because maths is what I am good at. I teach because children need teachers who truly love their subject. I teach because I want to be like the teachers I had. I teach because I want to inspire more young women to pursue STEM subjects. I teach because I care.
The real answer is that regardless of my subject area, I want to raise the aspirations of the young people in the community we serve.
It is not a case of ‘those who can’t, teach’. Rather, those who can, teach.
To show that it is all worth I wanted to end with my NQT highlight. My highlight of the year so far has been a thank you note from a year 7 student, they wrote ‘Thank you for always being kind and telling us silly, funny stories’. It made me stop and realise that although my job is to impart knowledge there will always be a choice in how I do this. And when given the choice, it should always be done with kindness and compassion. It is easy to get bogged down in bad behaviour and respond negatively, what isn’t easy is to maintain our positivity when everything seems against you.
It is a privilege to shape the minds and futures of the young people in this community and if ever you are unsure if teaching is for you then remember that teaching isn’t a profession for those with no other options. It’s a career for those who wish to provide young people with options.